Summer Safety: Stinging Insects

stinging insects

Wasps, hornets, and bees defend themselves from perceived attacks by stinging — and that can be painful or even dangerous for kids. Help your kids learn about stinging insects, avoid stings, and know how to treat them.

Avoid stings

The best plan for avoiding the pain of bee stings is not getting stung. Here are some steps you can take to avoid stings:

  • Dress kids in white, light blue, or tan colored clothing, not in bright colors that will appeal to insects. 
  • If your child is sensitive to stings, choose long sleeves and long pants.
  • Be aware that a bee can get caught in loose, flowing clothing.
  • Don’t allow kids to play outside barefoot. Closed shoes (not sandals) offer the best protection. 
  • Avoid scented shampoo, sunscreen, or lotions. Use unscented products.
  • Put long hair back. An insect that gets caught in your child’s hair is likely to sting, and your child may panic and move in ways that increase the chances of a sting.
  • Don’t leave food or drinks uncovered outdoors. A bee may crawl into a soda can.
  • Avoid drinking sweet drinks outside. 
  • Make sure kids know to watch out for bees, wasps’ nests, and stinging insects on the ground. Stepping on a hornet or getting into a wasp’s space can lead to stings.
  • Don’t swat at bees or other stinging insects.

If your child gets stung

If your child is stung by a bee or another stinging insect, there are a couple of home remedies that can help. Start by washing the area with soap and water. If a bee or hornet leaves a stinger in your child’s skin, scrape it away without breaking the venom sac.

You can make a paste of baking soda and water and leave that on the sting for 20 minutes. 

You can also use an ice pack for ten minutes, remove it for 10 minutes, and repeat the process. 

Either of these actions can help with pain, itching, and swelling. 

Depending on your child’s age, you may use pain medication or an antihistamine. Call your pediatrician for advice. 

Allergic reactions

Watch for signs of allergic reaction:

  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of mouth, tongue, or face
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting

If you see any of these signs, call your pediatrician and plan to seek emergency medical help. 

You should also call for medical assistance if an insect stings your child near the mouth, or if pain and swelling continues for more than three days.

If you know that your child is allergic to hornets, bees, or other stinging insects, your doctor may prescribe an EpiPen. Follow your pediatrician’s instructions to use it.